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Parents can Still learn from teachers

by Archie Wortham    --show me more like this

"Whatever you are able to bring to your students pales significantly when contrasted with what your students bring to you!" my mentor from college, G. Allan Yeomans wrote me this year.

The school year is almost over. What have you learned in the last year about your kids? What have you learned about your kids' teachers? What have you been able to share that will take you through the summer, and make you realize that we are all teachers, and the things we learn are best noted when we notice them? Well?

Me? It's been an eventual year. Both boys were put in public school and they survived as they continued to practice those things we taught them at home. Both boys learned to do a 360 on roller blades and both mom and I survived that. It's been an eventual year, and we look forward to the next. Why? Because of what we learned.

We learned as we listened to our sons that the values they take from home to school, they generally bring back. The teachers work hard. The teachers listen. The teachers listen to the kids and their parents. But the teachers can't do it all. Kids don't always deliver notes. They erase messages and delete e-mails. It's not the teachers' fault if parents are not involved. However, it is the teachers' fault if they fail to find a way to communicate. Particularly if teachers have had an unresolved burning issue with a student that if not resolved, can truly change the course of a child's life. I'm not pointing fingers, but just because a parent doesn't call, doesn't mean they don't care. Students have to learn that teachers do care. Our kids learn that at home! We say good things about teacher. It has helped both boys survive the jungle many call public schools.

We learned that in many cases, private schools don't have the budget public schools have. It was gratifying to see my tax dollars at work, and learn that public school teachers cared about our sons too. I know this because there has never been a time I've called, e-mailed, or sent a note to teacher I didn't hear back. Talk about getting your money's worth, and then some? I felt for the first time since Al Gore invented the Internet I was connected to the Internet highway. I know my sons are cared for, because each time they tell me that some teacher is mean, or a class is hard, I remember who I learned from. It was those teachers who pushed me the hardest that taught me the most. I remember some fondly, but even the mean ones I learned to respect. I teach that to our kids. Respect comes from respecting. Now do your homework!

Roller blades? Well that's another story. Do I remember Roller Blades? No. The closest I came to Roller Blades was Roller Derby. And for those of you who don't know what that was, it was like WWF on roller skates, where a team of skaters rolled and beat each other up around a rink. I didn't even own a pair of roller skates. You know, not even the kind that needed a key your brother used to make them too big for your feet. Remember those? Anyway, I've recently been exposed to what I can learn by listening. Remember, this article is about what teachers can learn from their students? Well I've watched my Tony Hawke wannabe's blade around the neighborhood. I've helped them build a ramp, and found out that I could learn to skate, and not feel like an idiot doing it. And I'm having fun doing it.

I guess that's the most remarkable thing about listening to others. You find out your way isn't the only way. You find out if you turn loose certain things, you are not as shackled as you once were. You learn that time heals all things, even bruises from falling as you tried to recapture your childhood, but learned that it's more important you let your kids enjoy theirs.

As the school year ends, I think we can thank the teachers for teaching, and our kids for learning. But most of all, I think the things we must never forget is: "If we stop allowing ourselves to learn, what new things can we teach?" I share that with Dr. Yeomans, as I share it with you, as I share with my students. If ever there is a day I enter a classroom with the attitude I'm not going learn anything, then I will never improve as a teacher, a parent, or a student of learning. Teachers, parents and students of learning...take that to the bank!

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